The fall of the Soviet Union initiated a new passage of American identity. Then the 9/11 War took us a long way down the road to journey’s end. This passage is also a migration. America has not simply abandoned one collective identity for another; we have become a different people, a different idea.
Our sacrosanct national narrative of ‘redeemer nation’ has been rewritten into a perverse story of a chosen people beleaguered and a civilization beset by barbarism. Those wretched of the earth we once so proudly pledged our sacred honor to succor and lift up are now our forever-foe—to be monitored, held down and, if necessary, hounded to the darkest ends of the earth.
But the darkness has instead come into us. While official banners still trumpet American altruism, our own spoken words, daily spun into the network ether of contemporary human consciousness, betray our true intent.
Our actions even speak so much louder. Daily our implacable national energies destroy yet more little bits of human society, no longer in the name of their salvation, but rather for our sake to defend the homeland. We are the Dark Lord now—the mythic essence of children’s nightmares. This is the story of our descent.
The first part of this article was published in the 2010 Spring/Summer issue of Kosmos.
Both parts are available in the Adobe Acrobat PDF files below.
Michael Vlahos, PhD is Professor of Strategy at the United States Naval War College. He is the author of Fighting Identity: Sacred War and World Change, a ‘take no prisoners’ analysis of how war—as culture’s core ritual—has shaped national identity in the modern world. Vlahos, a graduate of Yale and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, began his career in the Navy and the CIA.
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